25 January, 2017

January in our False Bay garden

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

We have two sorts of March lilies in our garden. The ones I found in Porterville which bloomed with joyful enthusiasm - a gift from Anna who gardened there before us and loves bulbs. (But the Porterville bulbs are sulking as they adjust)

The others were from our Camps Bay garden, and they longed for cool sea breezes when we lived in the Swartland, sulked and refused to bloom except in 2014. After two years of settling in, I have a first flower on Crinum moorei. Not March lilies, but Natal lilies!

Natal lily Crinum moorei from our Camps Bay garden

Thomas is an uncompromising minimalist in the garden. He favours a green Japanese look. No flowers. He smacked ALL the flowers off my Streptocarpus. Then he discovered the lily. I have built a defensive ring of pots around it, propped up the battered stem.

the Flower Inspector patrolling for infractions

The lemon tree still has a residue of too much in the corner towards the house, where it once reached desperately to the light. Lemon by lemon I tidy the shape. I need to trim down the Plectranthus neochilus, which grows so high that fallen lemons disappear!

Lemon tree

I learn that garden bloggers tidy their patch for New Year. It has taken me a few weeks to work around our garden. Pruning shrubs and trees, and clearing the overgrown paths. Another week needed to trim back the octopus arms of the ivy walls.

Summer Gold path

The Ungardener has planted new legs and reattached the kitchen trellis. Granadilla vine and Senecio creeper grow day by day as we look out of the kitchen window - nicely filling that privacy gap between wall and our neighbour's roof. Edible banana gives us a tropical corner, with the leaves that intrude on my mountain view tied back by him, or chopped off by me!

Cornish Stripe and trellis

We get slices of sunset, this thru the bay window above the mountain - which yesterday was shrouded in drifts of sea fog, and sun, and cloud.

January sunset

There is colour in the garden, more obvious to me, than my camera. White Pelargonium, golden Hibiscus, clear yellow Hypoxis, white ivy-leaved and pink fragrant pelargoniums, sky blue Plumbago.

January flowers in yellow ...

Pelargonium in clear pink, salmon, raspberry, scarlet, crimson ...

January's red ish pelargoniums

Shell pink Abelia trumpets, deep azure Cape forget me not, blue butterflies of Rotheca, a lonely Agapanthus flower head, Septemberbossie (fending off Thomas' claws with their Here Be Dragons), kingfisher blue Felicia.

January flowers in blue ...

Cape Town's dams have dropped below 40% and in February water restrictions will be tighter. 'With dams running empty and less than 100 days of water stocks, many residents are informing on excessive use by their neighbours'. We are working on a grey water solution for our garden. We hope for autumn rain. Tuesday we had a grateful 3 millimetres of rain. We can expect poorer water quality as the dams empty, and rising food prices (since two thirds of our water goes to agricultural irrigation). The wider and long term view of CapeNature - it is strongly suggested that future water use per capita and water demand have to reduce.

Bauhinia leaves

Bauhinia leaves, difficult to capture their pair of butterfly wings, as they were folded shut against the afternoon heat, despite the fog and cloud coming and going all day. Green garden is good to see. Wonder how the garden will cope with the next two or so months?

For Through the garden gate with Sarah in Dorset
And Wildflower Wednesday with Gail at Clay and limestone (Proudly South African except the Hibiscus and Abelia)

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Pictures by Diana Studer
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  1. Your garden is looking lush and beautiful in spite of the drought. Good to see that Thomas has left a few blooms. Perhaps you will end up with a browsing line above his reach.. green below, flowers above.

    1. mm but the Streptocarpus is on the table.
      He jumps up ;~))

  2. Thank you for the tour around your lovely garden, Diana. What a beautiful sunset! I'm sorry that the drought has reached the dire stage and I hope your wished-for rains arrive with the seasonal change. How funny Thomas is that he bats at flowers! Although perhaps it shouldn't surprise me - my cat will chew flowers in vases when she thinks they're getting more attention than her.

  3. I feel for you because we know drought here in California--though ours finally appears to be easing at least for this year.

    In the worst of our drought I used my washing machine water for shrubs--we found a "bio compatible" laundry detergent that was said to be okay for even sensitive plants--and indeed it was.

    I would rinse out dishes into the garden, wash veggies and rice and the coffee pot out in the garden--anything to avoid putting usable water down the drain.

    Best wishes for a quick end to your drought.

    1. We used everything but the kitchen sink water, in our grey water system in Porterville. With rain water for the pots and sensitive souls.

      I use Sunlight Baby soap powder in our washing machine - and that was fine in our Pvl garden. The newer machine is water efficient - so I'll skip that and harvest my bath water.

  4. I enjoyed seeing what's going on in your garden. I am sorry you are having a lack of rain. I hope you get some soon.

  5. I'm glad to see you have so many flowers and so much colour in your garden in January, in times of drought you really appreciate every bit of greenery and colour that is for sure! Your Thomas could get together with our cockatoos, they take exception to roses and lilies, and snap the stems off!

    1. Our Thomas is channeling Australia ;~)

  6. Your garden does look remarkably lush despite the lack of rain; planting natives has a very positive effect. I love how large your lemon is; it makes mine in pots look rather silly. Is it usual for you to have so long a period of drought? The fog and dampness from the sea will also make a huge difference.

    1. I have a lime in a pot, much cherished and it gives a genenrous harvest for a tiny tree.
      We have had a few dry years, lurching from one hopeful rainy season to the next. It does make a HUGE difference to have sea air, we enjoy it too.

  7. You have a lovely selection of flowers, despite Thomas batting them away! I do hope the much needed rains come soon for you, gardening must be very difficult for you.

    1. We choose no lawn, and water-wise indigenous plants.
      But people with brown lawns are SO NOT happy!

  8. Lovely photos. I pray you will soon get some much needed rain to replenish water supplies.


    1. Thank you - 10 millimetres this morning!!

  9. Thomas's taste for flowers is unfortunate -- especially since it deprived me of seeing your streptocarpus. I'm glad that some flowers survived his ministrations.
    It seems that you've been experiencing a round of drought and fire similar to what California has been going through in recent years. They have gotten some relief this year in the form of unusually heavy rains and snow. -Jean

  10. Your garden still looks so green and colourful despite the rain! How funny that your cat swipes the flowers! Our cat Twinkle only attacks the cat mint and one of our specimen grasses! Your lemon tree does look better than the first time you showed it to us. Sarah x

    1. We have a reed with big heavy seedheads which he enjoys.

  11. A delight to enjoy your January garden. I can almost feel your warmth. We have a tortoise that likes to minimalise my garden but he's asleep now. We too have hibiscus flowering; mine is in the conservatory :) B x

  12. Here in England our gardens are lacking in colour at the moment. It's lovely to see your garden and all the vibrant colours

  13. Why do garden bloggers tidy their garden for New Year? Thomas would enjoy my garden: not a flower in sight at the moment. I hope you will get some rain soon.

    1. Spring cleaning sort of mindset? Fresh start? I am pruning to make space for March planting.

  14. Your photographs look very colorful to me, Diana -- can't imagine them being more so to the eye. Our drought seems to be eased for a while. Praying that you receive a soaking of rain soon. P. x

  15. A kitty with a purpose! Your lovely garden looks lush and healthy, and your collages reveal the color there. It reminds me of our summer garden, where green is prominent but bright color peeks through here and there. How lucky you have fruiting bananas!


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